Sunday, March 21, 2010
Side note: Ski racing season is not finished on the world cup. How would you like to be the back of Brian Gregg's legs?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I am back training now - and man am I sore! Nichole has been pounding the roads pretty hard now getting ready for the Marathon this spring, and as her loving husband this means I get my share of the roads too. On Saturday (my first day back training) I did a 6 mile run with her pretty easy. This was the first run I had done in about 3 weeks, and really for most of the racing season I usually only ran once or twice a week, and usually not more than 5 miles at a time. So on Sunday I could feel the previous day's run a little bit in my calves. But Nichole was putting in a big day (18 mile run with the last 8 at marathon pace i.e. 6:30 mile pace), and she is feeling a little sorry for herself that she has nobody to run with her, so I suck it up and get out on the roads. I do 5 of her 9 mile warm up, and meet her at the high school where there is a 1.4 mile loop that, while still a bit hilly, is the flattest option we have here in Red Wing. She starts of at her 6:30 mile pace and I run with her for about half the loop, then I cut off and jog across the middle to meet her at the start point again and run with her for half the loop again. In total I did about 25 minutes at 6:30 mile pace with her, and about 15 minutes of jogging in between. Add in the warm up and the one mile cool down and I had an hour and 32 minutes of running on my second day back training. And that is why I am still sore 2 days later. Probably not the smartest training decision in the world, but I earned good brownie points at home, and I hope it will serve as a good kick-off to this year's training.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I think my last ski will have been the Slush Rush at Elm Creek last Saturday. It was a lot of fun, and there was a family rate for the race so my parents, wife, and brother-in-law Ben all decided to come race too. The only problem was that Ben had skied a grand total of 2 times in his life, probably totaling less than 10k. True story: the race started at the bottom of the sleding hill, and Ben was having such a hard time getting up the hill that half way up the race organizers came down to him and pushed him the rest of the way up the hill. Needless to say he was a bit over his head, but was smart enough to cut the race short before he hurt himself (or my borrowed equiptment!). The good news is that he enjoyed himself enough to borrow my boots and skis for the rest of his spring break week and is currently skiing on some trails in Wisconsin with some college friends. Only bad part of the race is that I managed to catch a head cold and am now paying the price by having to carry a box of kleenex around with me in the clinic all day (is there anything worse than a runny nose under a surgical mask?). At least this is a good time to take some time off. It is probably good for me too, since I otherwise would have jumped right in to running with Nichole, and last spring that meant that I never really took any significant break after the ski season. This year I will. I will also have to do a deeper retrospective on my training log for the year. It was a good season for me - probably not quite as good as last year, but darn close - and I will have to figure out what type of changes I should make for next year.
As for Vakava as a team, I will simply quote Dave's last email: "It's been a lot of fun seeing all of our hard efforts paying off with some very good skiing and some very good results. Aside from just having a lot of fun on the snow together, Vakava had 14 overall race wins this winter, and more than 50 age-class wins. We're looking forward to continuing to build on that success."
It will be time to break out the Marwe's in no time!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
The first race I did this season was the 20k Elk River race in late December. There had been a couple earlier races I could have done but didn’t feel mentally ready to do one. The season can get really long and I thought it was better to pace myself. I figured I needed to race at least once before TC Champs and the Elk River race was the last one before it. 20k is a bit longer than I would’ve like for a first race but the timing was right. My only thought for the race was to just get one under my belt and see how it felt. I purposely didn’t think about who else was there or what place I might get or anything like that. I just wanted to ski my race, so that’s what I did. This is not the same as ignoring other racers. You still need to pay attention to what they are doing and how you might strategize things, but if they are going to fast for you, let them go. If they are going to slow for you, drop them. If they are going a nice pace, work with them and see if you can use the pack to ski faster. So that’s lesson #1: pay attention to others and strategize, but ski your own race. You can’t control how others ski and you shouldn’t let them control you.
The second race was the TC Champs 15k classic at Battle Creek. I planned to ski my own race again, and I did, but I was a little excited and went out too fast. I was leading for the first 1k when I tripped myself up around a corner and went down on my butt. Many people went by and I dropped way back. Then I settled down and found my pace. I was able to catch a couple people on my second lap but could’ve done better if I’d been smarter at the start. So that was lesson #2: keep yourself under control at the start, it’s better to finish strong than to suffer much of the race after starting too hard.
The third race was the TC Champs 10k skate at Theo Wirth for the pursuit start. I was only a few seconds behind Kim Rudd and Kathleen DeWahl was right behind me. It didn’t take us long to catch Kim and the three of us skied the entire race together, which was great. I felt good and it was fun to have a nice group. Kim and Kathleen dropped me at the very end but I still had a very nice race. The three of us had the fastest times of the day and I’m sure it’s because we were pushing each other. So that was lesson #3: find a nice group to ski with if you can since you tend to ski faster in a group.
Stay tuned; more lessons coming soon!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
First, if any of you haven't skied since the Birkie, Theo Wirth was in amazing shape (front and back 9) as of 11am this morning. It's great to have that kind of coverage and grooming in sunny 30 degree weather.
Second, the Birkie was fun as per usual. Unfortunately I'm still unable to push to a good high max HR as things continue to heal post-sugery. But after really struggling up through OO or so (while very seriously contemplating a DNF), I found a little rhythm and hung on to a small group. I was at Mayo last week, and the surgeon said he believes everything seems to be healing (although they put me back on a rate control drug due to my 90-100bpm resting HR). Luckily, I snuck into a top 200 spot, so hopefully next year I'll be fully recovered ready to go again.
Finally, next Tuesday I'll be defending my PhD thesis and then moving to Portland, OR to work as a circuit designer for Intel. Luckily there is good CC skiing one hour away at Mt. Hood (see pic below), and a little further than that in Bend. It's a bummer to move away from such a great city with so many trails, but such is life. If anyone finds themselves in Portland and is looking to roller ski or ski, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to everyone who has helped me work on my form or whipped my butt in intervals. I'll be following Vakava results from the Northwest!
But despite the timing quirks, this was probably one of the best (if not the best) Birkies I have participated in (this was my 7th). It truly is an experience that every skier should do once (if not once a year!).